It’s a good idea to avoid using public wi-fi when you can. But if you can’t get around it, there are ways you can stay safe on public wi-fi. Although digital security has improved over the years, breaches are still prevalent. From knowing public wi-fi security tips to the risks associated with public wi-fi, there are precautions you can take to protect your security and data when working away from your home or office. Here’s how to stay safe on public wi-fi.
1. Use a VPN
If you have no choice but to use a city’s or coffee shop’s public network, try using a virtual public network (VPN) on public wi-fi. If your company doesn’t use a VPN and offer one to its employees, you may want to consider investing in this affordable option for yourself (if your company approves). It encrypts data and connects you to a secure server, which may be a good idea for your overall security, especially if you travel a lot or like to work in various remote spaces.
2. Know Your Network
Try to stick with public wi-fi networks you’ve used in the past, i.e., in the airport or at a hotel. The fewer networks in your history, the better the chance you’ll stay uncompromised and secure. And although some available pop-up wi-fi options may be legitimate, your chances of exposure resoundingly decrease when you stay on tried-and-true, previously used networks.
3. Stay on Secure Sites
When working online, you’ll often access websites that are unsecured — and they’ll tell you so! Avoid these when on public wi-fi. But if you must visit that site, then make sure it has a log-in and registration component. That will tell you it’s (relatively) safe.
4. Don’t Shop Online
Shopping online means using credit or debit cards, accessing passwords, etc. — and it’s a big no-no when in the public wi-fi space. It also offers the opportunity to unwittingly share data known only to the retailer that you wouldn’t want shared with strangers. Wait until you get home to make any online purchases.
5. Turn off Bluetooth
Bluetooth is great to connect you with your myriad of devices when you’re at home, but in a public setting it offers hackers an opportunity to gain access and puts your security at risk. Disconnect from Bluetooth when you’re on public wi-fi and reconnect when you get back to a secure space, such as your office or your home.
6. Keep Your Personal Data to Yourself
Whatever you do, do not access your personal bank, investment or credit card accounts — or any personal data, frankly — on any unsecured public networks where hackers and identity thieves may be targeting wi-fi users. Even secured public networks can be risky, so leave that to where things of a personal nature are best left — in the privacy of your own home.
An Extra Layer of Protection
For added protection, ask your local Farm Bureau agent about adding Identity Services and Fraud Expense Coverage to your Farm Bureau insurance policy. With this coverage, experienced fraud specialists will work on your behalf to help resolve the situation if your identity gets stolen.